Mickey Devine Hunger Striker Martyr
'Red Mickey' Devine
Irish National Liberation Army Volunteer Mickey Devine was the tenth and final Irish Republican POW to give his life in the tragic Hunger Strike of 1981. Mickey Devine gave his life for The Five Demands and he was also the third and last of the INLA's POWs to lay down their lives on Hunger Strike.
Mickey Devine, known in Derry as 'Red Mick' due both to his Revolutionary socialist politics and his shock of red hair. Mickey was a founding member of the revolutionary Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) in his home city of Derry. The
Ironically, it has been said that the INLA unit in Derry to which Mickey Devine and Patsy O'Hara were members of, was in severe need of small arms, not just to fight the armed struggle against the British Army, it's death-squads and it's plethora of counter-gangs, SAS assassins and paramilitary RUC units, but also to protect members of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement from attacks from elements within the leadership of the PIRA in the city who were centred around the late Deputy Prime Minister of the the currently defunct Stormont assembly, Martin McGuinness, who made no secret of his hatred of the Irish National Liberation Army and it's political wing, the Marxist-Leninist, Irish Republican Socialist Party
Scenes from the military funeral given to INLA Hunger Striker, Mickey DevineClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Five Demands
The Five Demands, as they were come to be known, were not some sinister, 'masterplan' as the prison's turnkeys, unburdened by original thought, seemed to believe was a cunning plan to immediately wrest total control of the H-Blocks from the POA to the command structures of the INLA and PIRA. In reality, the Five Demands were a model of fairness that although reflecting the very different 'crimes' and prisoners inhabiting the H-Blocks, compared to, for instance, a UK local or High-Security Prison, the Five Demands would apply across the board in N Irish prisons, accommodating Loyalist inmates and ODCs (a definition for non-political prisoners whose concept could only have originated at the POA's original thinkers program).
The H-Block Hunger Strikers' Five demands were:
- The right not to wear a prison uniform;
- The right not to do prison work;
- The right of free association with other prisoners, and to organize educational and recreational pursuits;
- The right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week;
- Full restoration of remission lost through the protest
'What naked valor!
* Author's note. I and my friend interviewed and filmed Richard O'Rawe for a Hunger Strike Commemoration in Chicago in 2014 and what I can say without a shadow of a doubt is that he dearly loved his H-Block comrades and the words he spoke were not the currency of the liar.
Richard O'Rawe, whose book 'Blanketmen', for the first time in published form had claimed the existence of a 'deal' which allegedly could have saved the lives of up to half of the Hunger Strikers but was rejected by the Provisional IRA's leadership structure outside the prison, for reasons the public may never be privy too'.
Richard O'Rawe's testimonial quote to Mickey Devine, from his book: Afterlives: The Hunger Strike and the Secret Offer that Changed Irish History (2011) speaks volumes of the high esteem Mickey and indeed all the Hunger Strikers were regarded:
"This poor man - like his nine comrades - was blessed (or damned) with the heart of a lion. He had told Pat Beag that he thought all was lost, yet he chose to forfeit his life rather than end his hunger strike. What naked valor! He had one life, and he gave it to us"
Richard O'Rawe is the author of
- Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-block Hunger Strike (2005)
- Afterlives: The Hunger Strike and the Secret Offer that Changed Irish History (2011)
- In the Name of the Son: The Gerry Conlon Story (2017)
Murals dedicated to Hunger Striker Mickey DevineClick thumbnail to view full-size
'The Bravest of the Brave'
Mickey Devine's Hunger Strike began after the Summer Solstice of the sad and bitter year of 1981, his fellow County Derry INLA comrade, Kevin Lynch from nearby Park village died some 6 weeks later on the first day of August 1981.INLA Volunteer, Mickey Devine, fought against the prison regime and later with every last breath of his body during the final days of his brave Stailc Ocrais. 'Ten Men Dead' by David Beresford, at one time viewed as the definitive account of the H-Block Hunger Strikes but in recent times its star has long since fallen, was none too kind or particularly respectful to Volunteer Mickey Devine's memory. Many of his old comrades have stated that the author gave a poor impression of the last Hunger Striker's life's value. The Irish National Liberation Army revolutionary, Mickey Devine, just like his previous Hunger Striker comrades before him and those that were to embark on Hunger Strikes after his death were some of the very bravest of the brave. Mickey Devine's last fight against the British occupation of Ireland, monopoly capitalism, and the very inhuman prison regime that vainly hoped to break those who were proven to be unbreakable, ended sixty days after he began his fast for justice. His son Michael later traveled to Turkey in 2001 to observe the heartbreaking scenes of injustice
H-Block Hunger Strikers' son traveled with the Irish delegation to Küçük Armutlu in Istanbul in September 2001Click thumbnail to view full-size
© 2019 Liam A Ryan